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Golf: Akshay Sharma cards 67 in round three to stay put in lead
Panchkula, November 6, 2020
Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma carded five-under 67 to extend his lead to a commanding five shots in round three of the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship at Panchkula Golf Club here on Friday.
Sharma, the overnight leader by three shots, came up with a composed 67 despite some early jitters in his round. The 30-year-old, who has led the field for the first three days now, has a tournament tally of 19-under 197.
Karandeep Kochhar, also hailing from Chandigarh, struck a 69 to continue in second place at 14-under 202.
Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa (72) was placed third at 11-under 205 while Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa fired the day’s best score of 64 to rise 21 spots to fourth position at nine-under 207.
Sharma (64-66-67) worked his way to a healthy lead on the penultimate day, setting himself up for his second title. After two bogey-free rounds, he made his first error of the week when he dropped a double-bogey on the second after an inaccurate bunker shot.
He steadied himself by picking up birdies on the third, fifth, sixth and seventh. He made a good up and down from the bunker on the sixth and an excellent recovery from the trees on the seventh.
Winner on the PGTI in 2018, Sharma's hot putter earned him birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th where he drained putts from a range of 25 to 45 feet. He made 15 greens in regulation for the second day running.
“It was another solid round for me barring one error early on. My hitting was as good as the last two rounds but I didn’t hit it that close to the holes today. My placement wasn’t as accurate if one compares to the previous two days," he said.
Kochhar (68-65-69), who trailed the leader by three at the start of the day, kept pace with Sharma for most of the day collecting five birdies on the first 13 holes. Kochhar drove the green on the par-4 sixth to make birdie there and also set up four feet birdie conversions on the fifth and eighth.
He then suffered a couple of setbacks towards the end, dropping bogeys on the 15th and 17th. He found the hazard on the 15th and got unlucky on the 17th where his ball bounced on the edge of the green, hit a tree and was deflected about 40 yards away.
Chikkarangappa (66-67-72) slipped from overnight tied second to third place as a result of his 72 which included three birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.
Viraj Madappa struck an incredible 64, one shy of Mandeo Singh Pathania’s 2009 course record of 63. After a quiet front-nine where he made a birdie and bogey, Madappa’s round took flight on the back-nine thanks to his phenomenal putting as he sank an eagle and six birdies including five on the trot from the 13th to the 17th.
Viraj made an 85-feet putt from the front edge of the green for his eagle-two on the 11th. He then knocked in putts from a range of 12 to 30 feet from the 13th to the 17th.
Udayan Mane of Pune, the PGTI Order of Merit leader, posted a flawless 66 to move up 10 spots to fifth place at eight-under 208.
The other Chandigarh golfers in the top-10 were Aadil Bedi (71) in tied sixth at seven-under-209, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (68) in tied eighth at six-under-210 and Amrit Lal (72) in tied 10th at five-under 211.
Gurugram-based Veer Ahlawat (72) was tied 12th at four-under 212. Rashid Khan (74), Khalin Joshi (71) and Aman Raj (75) were all in tied 15th place at three-under 213.
Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (72) occupied tied 31st position at one-over 217.